Exploring women's perspectives at Art House 310

With an exhibition of works by Madison Mullen and Brittany Schaar, the downtown-adjacent Art House 310 delivers another thought-provoking duo of artists this month.

Exploring women's perspectives at Art House 310
Madison Mullen, "Plymouth," acrylic on collaged canvas, 48 by 48 inches (Photo by Emily Mayagoitia for the SHOUT)

Madison Mullen & Brittany Schaar
May 3-26 at Art House 310, 310 S. Laura St. in Wichita's Hyde Park neighborhood
Gallery hours: 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 1-4 p.m. Sundays

Through the month of May, visitors to Art House 310 are treated to a captivating exploration of female experience through diverse mediums and perspectives.  

The gallery space is divided into two rooms, each showcasing works by Madison Mullen and Brittany Schaar, respectively. Initially, one might perceive little common ground between the two artists. Yet, upon further inspection, and despite their differing aesthetics, the artists’ collages and paintings converge in their exploration of the female narrative.

Madison Mullen, "A Cultural History," acrylic transfer collage, 18 by 14 inches. Photo by Emily Mayagoitia for the SHOUT.

Madison Mullen delves deep into the portrayal of women in contemporary and popular culture in many of her works. Through a combination of printed media and artistic interpretation, Mullen confronts the desensitization of society towards violence against women. In "A Cultural History," Mullen collages together color magazine photos of women’s bodies and faces with art historical depictions of Medusa’s severed head and images of a muscle car, video game controller, canned goods, and other consumer items. Violence, mythology, and consumerism all conspire to objectify and dehumanize the women in this piece.

Mullen’s collages, rich in symbolism, also challenge viewers to reevaluate the pervasive sexualization ingrained in representations of the female body. With a nod to historical narratives, Mullen fearlessly reclaims the female form, exposing the dark undercurrents of exploitation that have long plagued society. Her pieces serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for female empowerment and autonomy. 

In contrast, Brittany Schaar’s series of acrylic paintings titled "Windows/Komorebi" offers an introspective journey into the artist's personal history and memories. Through a delicate interplay of light and shadow, Schaar invites viewers to peer through windows of her life, with each painting on wood panel a snapshot of emotion and connection. For instance, in “Garden,” Schaar depicts a hand holding a sunflower over a backdrop of plowed fields with bees, clouds, a watermelon section, and a peapod in its own inset scene of fields and a harvesting basket. The painting comes across as a meditation on the satisfaction of growing your own food and plants, the relationship of personal gardening to agriculture, and the importance of bee pollination to our food supply.

Brittany Schaar, "Garden," acrylic on wood panel, 6 by 6 inches (Photo by EmilyMayagoitia for the SHOUT.

Nostalgia also permeates Schaar’s work, underscoring the importance of cherishing the simple moments that shape our existence. "Komorebi," the Japanese term for sunlight filtering through leaves, serves as a touching metaphor for the rejuvenating power of presence and gratitude. Schaar's pieces resonate with a profound energy through their vibrant colors, encouraging viewers to embrace the present while honoring the past.

Together, Mullen and Schaar offer a compelling dialogue on femininity, memory, and resilience. Their distinct voices merge within the exhibition spaces at Art House 310, inviting visitors to contemplate the complexities of female subjectivity, representation, and bodily experiences. As the exhibition continues through May 26th, it serves as a reminder of the power of art to provoke introspection and inspire change.

For those unable to see the exhibition in person, both artists showcase more of their work online, offering a digital view into their creative worlds. Madison Mullen's portfolio can be explored on her website and Instagram, while Brittany Schaar's pieces can be found on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, Art House 310 publishes a walk-through video of each exhibition the Saturday following the First Friday opening reception on their social media platforms.

Art House 310 is a gallery dedicated to nurturing Wichita’s vibrant art scene. Founded by Angie and Rhett Evans, this visionary project aims to provide a platform for both emerging and seasoned artists to exhibit and sell their work. Through exhibitions, workshops, and group shows, Art House 310 is an accepting and supportive place for all interested in the arts. 

“The gallery tries to pair artists who vary in style and medium for each show,” said Angie Evans, gallery diretor. “There is room for everyone here.”

Located in an inviting space near downtown, the venue promises not only a platform for artists but also a catalyst for further growth in the area. With a commitment to professionalism and a belief in the city's talent, Art House 310 is poised to shape the cultural landscape of Wichita for years to come.

Art enthusiasts, local collectors, and advocates for social change alike will find much to ponder and appreciate in this dynamic exhibition. Evans believes that “Interpretation is up to everyone. It is really interesting to see how visitors interact with the artwork.” 

Emily Mayagoitia is an independent dress historian and art history instructor at Wichita State University. Much of her research focuses on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion within the arts and heritage sectors.

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